One of the truly wonderful things about creating the Ball of Whacks has been getting to learn about a lot of new areas, including dealing with the USPTO, the ins and outs of plastic injection molding, and CAD. Near the top of the list has been getting this product manufactured in China.
People ask me,"Roger, how did you pick your off-shore manufacturer?" Well, there's no shortage of people in Silicon Valley who have contacts. I narrowed my list to four vendors, and then after interviewing them, selected a Hong Kong-based firm with manufacturing facilities in Dongguan, China.
The tooling for the Ball of Whacks is intricate. For maximum magnetic attraction, the thickness of each Whack piece has to be in the range of 0.5 millimeter -- quite thin. My mechanical engineer/CAD guru, Jason Hilbourne, and I worked with their engineers for about four months getting the tooling right.
Each Whack piece in the Ball of Whacks has three plastic parts. Thus, there are three different molds used to make them. The first photo shows one part of the molds. You can see four cavities. The second photo shows what they look like when they come out.
There are 270 parts in each Ball of Whacks including 180 rare earth magnets. Thus, assembly is quite important for this product. Shown in the third photo is the "Ball of Whacks All Star Assembly Team." In the foreground, the ladies are carefully inserting the magnets in their correct positions. In the back, the woman is ultrasonically welding the pieces together.
I came away really impressed with my Chinese manufacturer. Their machines are new (or very recent), the facilities are clean, and most important, the employees are knowledgeable and motivated. It was a very good experience!